Buy All The Floaties!

Since we bought our home, we have enjoyed the pool. Of course we needed to buy toys to go in. No matter how old you are- a floatie is the best part of being in a pool.

Today, Rainbow Unicorn joined the family. We still have Flamey- the pink flamingo. We also have a yellow duck, a dragon, three tubes, and a double tube all inflated. As backup we have two more tubes, a lounge chair and another yellow duck. I need to stop buying these things.

Last year we lost three inflatables. One was a narwhal. I was unable to find a replacement for him. But a friend of ours brought the Dragon which I absolutely love! There’s something about lounging that just makes me want to lay inside of a silly looking inflatable animal.

Next year I’ll probably still buy some more. I can’t help myself. They’re so much fun!

Frugal Christmases of Yore

When I first met my wife, I didn’t have much of anything to my name. A bed, an old stereo, a tv and a DVD player was pretty much it. We slowly began to acquire items from family friends. A couple couches, a deep freeze (which we still have to this day!) and some old dishes were sent our way. And we appreciated everything about it. That year, I chose to donate almost all of my Star Wars action figures to the needy. I kept a couple basic characters in hopes that one day we’d have a kid to pass them on to.

A couple years after marriage and our first kid was born in 2002. They were spoiled that year by everyone in the family because it was the first grandkid on either of our sides. Two years later and kid (grandkid) number 2 arrived and was equally spoiled. Same with our third who showed up two years after that. By this point I was still making a fairly low income and my wife was a stay at home mom doing her best to add extra income in any way possible. But my job at the time had one great perk.

I was a manager at a Chuck E. Cheese’s. I was in charge of ordering all those prizes on the back wall. My boss at the time told me I could always add an extra few toys for my family whenever I wanted. So I did. I accumulated these bigger ticket items throughout the year to stockpile for Christmas. My kids also got treated at least twice a week to dinners and unlimited games and small prizes. In their eyes- this dad had the greatest job ever!

Not everyone has loads of money to make the holidays “special”. Sometimes we rely on the kindness of those around us to make it feel better. I was not ashamed to thank family, friends and coworkers for their generosity. The joy I felt from their kindness far surpassed my need to go it alone.

If you see someone needing a hand, emotionally, financially, even spiritually- try and help out. I’ve been doing my part to “Pay it Forward” over the years.

Helping people financially isn’t always giving money. Sometimes it’s offering a home cooked meal, or helping them get better jobs, supporting their art, or buying their handmade wares. Getting that internal smile always made me feel good that someone out there cared. And in turn, I know they felt good as well.

Toy Action

My son decided that today he would take some action shots of his Star Wars toys and Lego Star Wars toys.

He set up numerous shots. He also worked in a bunch of techniques that made the toys look like they were truly telling a story. Here is a collection of a few of his favorite pictures:

He was having a great time while doing this. These images he took are fun. He plans on editing these, plus some of the others with a variety of filters. I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.

Little People

Having an older home with minimal closet and storage space can make it challenging to save stuff. We do have some buildings on our property that have been used for storage. But two of the three are old and dilapidated. One is an old garden shed where a tree fell on it a few years back. So we moved everything from there to an old playhouse. The other is a woodshed/small barn/workshop. Unfortunately that has a rotten roof and back wall.

This past weekend I went into the barn and began to take some of our belongings out. It was obvious from the moment I got in there that rodents have made homes in the upper part. Not too surprising considering we live in the country with squirrels, raccoons, and all sorts of small furry creatures. Most of our stuff was left untouched- which was good. It also didn’t look like we had to much left to move out.

It wasn’t until I got everything into our home that I realized how wrong I was.

My wife and I saved our children’s collection of “Little People”. Three kids and about ten years of buying these toys accumulated to a huge collection. Everything from a castle to a circus, an airplane to a zoo- our kids received almost everything imaginable. I remember the kids spending hours playing with them when they were younger.

On Saturday, our fifteen year old daughter decided she wanted to open up every box and play again. This had all three of our kids sharing memories and stories of playing with the toys and watching videos of “Little People” at the same time.

I’m glad my wife and I saved these toys. We will pass them on to our children or (even grandchildren?) one day. From my youth I saved all my LEGO. My sister saved her Barbies and My Little Pony toys. Both my sister and I passed these toys on to our children. It’s a great way to keep memories alive while creating new ones.

What does do you keep from your youth? Or what toys have you kept of your children’s that you can’t wait to pass on? Let me know!

Workplace Toys

Working in an office on a regular basis, one needs to add a bit of “flair” to make it more personalized. Since our work is a 24/7 operation- we share a workspace. As professional as we are, we still need a little break to show our humanity. So… we have toys scattered throughout the office.

Our fandoms get expressed in small doses. Just a friendly reminder of what we work towards- from gaming to movies. There’s a goal at the end of each day that keeps us laughing and going.

Even a missing ceiling tile gets a little buddy to watch over us. If it brings a even a brief smile to our workspace, it’s worth it.

Sometimes our doodles and artwork get put up. The moments of fun is what makes it all worthwhile. There is a plethora of talent here as well.

How do you decorate your workspace? What do you have that keeps you sane?


Since 1989, the BC Liquor Stores have been doing a program called Share A Bear. It’s a simple concept- you buy a small teddy bear and the Liquor Distribution Branch donates a similar bear to a child in need.

I don’t usually do impromptu purchases. But every year the bears do get cuter.

I’ve bought them in the past because they are super cute. And cuddly. My kids have loved them, so I assume a child in need would love one as well. This year I chose to buy a Polar Bear in a cute flannel hoodie.

This year, I’ll be giving it to our oldest daughter when I come home tonight. I owe her an apology, and a cute-pa-tootie bear should start to make a difference.

So if you’re buying something this season from the BC Liquor Store- (I know you will!) think about getting a bear. For $11.70- you get a cute toy to give away and a child in need will get a cute toy at the same time.

Giving feels good.

Japan Has So Much To Offer

After our trip, here are the things I’d like to bring back with me from Japan:


Holy smokes, people in Japan are really courteous. There are so many things I wish North Americans could adopt. Manners would be number 1. Without so much as knowing more than two words in Japanese- Kon’nichiwa and Arigato- I survived with kindness.


This is AMAZING. Even in public washrooms- there are bidets. And sound effects to hide your indiscretions. And seat warming. And butt spraying! And more!!! Best invention ever. My bum hole has never been happier. Seriously. These things are awesome. It may be time to buy one for my home. A cold toilet seat isn’t nice first thing in the morning.

I just avoid the old style toilets in public.

Plastic bag holders.

Why aren’t these available more frequently in North America? These are amazingly handy. I think I could carry 4 bags of 2L colas in one hand using these. Don’t tell anyone, but I may have brought a half-dozen of these home.

Toy Capsules.

We must’ve spent a small fortune on these evil items. At 200¥ – 500¥ each: my family (wife included!) kept buying them. It all started one day at the train station at Akihabara. So many Capsule Machines!!! And the payout is much better than the claw games (or even the junky toys at our local malls). No wonder we couldn’t help ourselves.


Such tasty food. Rice and noodles and meat and eggs and sweets! Even the pre-packaged food from 7-11 is better than the Twinkies and hot dogs sold here. But wait- there’s more:

Cute Food.

Still talking about food- but oh so cute! It’s almost shameful to eat it. Small quantities of edible goodies that aren’t really mass produced need to be brought here. They’re so much fun and great for those Instagram photos!


Ok, I work for a railroad, but the public transportation system in Tokyo is amazing.(Even the trains in Disneyland and DisneySea were awesome.) The train system in Japan was easy to follow along with and use. Only once did we get on the wrong train, but after a couple of stops, just got off and went the right way at no extra cost. Cheap and efficient public transportation. A must have for our province. It runs like clockwork- absolute perfection.

Note: When we returned home, my 20 minute trip from the airport cost me $7.85 to get into Vancouver. While most of our trips were under 310¥ (approx. $3.70). There ran on exact times- not an approximate time. And the trains go everywhere! (I don’t even get bus service near my home.)

Japan has lots to offer. Perhaps some things I can work on bringing home. Perhaps other things will come to fruition over time.

Pink vs Blue

There is often discussion, or rather Internet rage, about the fact that toy companies and clothing companies make “gender specific” items. Slapping pink on something, saying it’s for girls, and charging twice as much- is far too common. I have two girls and a son at home and it irks me to see this happen.
Why should Nerf or Lego make toys geared towards specific genders? The Lego in my house gets all mixed up anyways. Yellow Nerf guns shoot the same as pink ones. What jack up the price?

There shouldn’t be a huge price difference in clothing either. One of my son’s favorite hoodies is a hand me down girl’s hoodie. My eldest daughter loves her men’s hiking boots and my old pants. I have seen the quality difference in t-shirts with the exact same image printed. Men’s shirts are more durable by far. It’s crazy.

I encourage my children to like what ever they want. In the 15+ years of parenting, this seems to make them happy. But I also try and persuade them to think of quality and cost associated. Our children are now extremely savvy shoppers and are not taken in by the trendy market advertising. 

Trying to change big companies is an almost futile endeavor. Which is why we support small businesses or thrift shops whenever possible. My kids love it as well. But that’s just how my wife and I like to parent. Seems to be working for us and the kids.

Can’t Hold On Forever 

I’ve come to a point in my life that I need to move forward.  I always think back to my youth and the joy I had.  However, I can’t justify hoarding the items that made my life fun. Nor can I find solace in trying to reaquire them anymore.

Yesterday the SNES Classic was released.  Up until Thursday night I was 100% ready to buy one.  It was a reminder of how great the Super Nintendo once was. All the feelings of being able to play the great games included inside the new console came flooding into my mind.  But taking a friend to one of my favorite places on Thursday evening changed it for me.

My friend and I stopped in at Toy Traders in Langley on Thursday evening.  It’s a fun toy store with lots of huge displays and large dioramas. They sell cards, games, comics, new toys, old toys, and collectibles. I love wandering around with my kids, but I also enjoy going without them.  On Thursday I was looking at some old He-Man and Transformers figures that I once owned as a child. It dawned on me that I no longer needed to possess them like I had about ten to fifteen years ago. Probably also because seeing $200 for a used toy with missing parts seemed a bit crazy to me.

The toys and videogames of my youth shall remain in my memories.  Had I bought the SNES Classic, I would’ve had about a weekend of fun and then it would sit on a shelf collecting dust. I knew that fact to be true. A few years ago, I sold my original Super Nintendo and my N64 to a friend’s son with all my games and accessories. To this day, he gets more joy out of it than the box it was stored in did. I need to let go of some of the things from my past. 

Like side scrolling Super Mario- always keep moving forward, there’s nothing but broken bricks and crushed shells behind you.

The Little Adventurers

This past weekend my wife and I attended Silicon Valley Comic Con. We did not bring our children, which is a rarity most of the time. We did however bring along a Pop Vinyl toy from each of our kids. We posed them and took photos of their adventures. 

My wife and I got some strange looks. Nothing like a couple of forty-somethings playing with toys and laughing as they took pictures. It made sense at the convention, but on the road and in restaurants- just a couple of looney tunes.

Here’s a quick peak at the mischief they got into:

Excitement as we hit the road.

A little bump on the road.

Dinner break.

The fair was closed due to rain!

We made it to our first hotel.

Why is he swimming in the rain?

Day 2- Checking out the Vista views.

Check out those views!

Thumbs up! We made it to California!

Photo bombing my selfie.

Group shot in the sun.

Check out the sun!

Learning about the landscape.

Let’s do it! Let’s move to Mars!

We want to work for NASA!

The whole reason for our trip!

We had fun with our “kids” this trip. A big thank you to our son Theory for his Domo Stay Puft who always looked excited; Darwin’s Hello Kitty who kept her cool the entire time; and Random’s Cyberman (whom we kidnapped without her knowledge).

Hot Toys

Being a child throughout the 80’s I saw many fads and toys become popular.  I was too young to appreciate the Star Wars toy debacle of 1977.  My first brush with this phenomenon wasn’t a toy for me, but rather my younger sister.  

In 1982, my little sister wanted a rub-a-dub doggie for Christmas.  It was a plastic dog with fabric ears that came with a bone shaped sponge.  The gimmick?  On his collar was a lever that you moved back and forth making the dog shake his head causing the wet ears to swing.  Water flew everywhere.  Great bathtub toy to give a toddler.  

My father did his best to get this toy for my sister.  In a time of no cellular phones or internet, my father used the resources he had readily available.  He had an associate from Chicago bring one out during a business meeting in Edmonton.  And the toy dog was there, under the tree for her on Christmas morning.

The following year, Cabbage Patch Kids hit the stores causing mass riots.  A few years later, Teddy Ruxpin caused an uproar as the talking teddy bear that would move his mouth and blink while telling you a story.

Tickle This

1996 had the Christmas of Tickle Me Elmo.  Or as was commonly dubbed- “Tackle Me Elmo” as Store had them flying off shelves and people trying to sell them for $1500 each.  Two years later- Furby hit the stores.

This year sees Hatchimals as the toy to have (and the Nintendo NES Mini as a close second).  But reading online how a child’s Christmas “will be ruined” if they don’t get one is absolutely bonkers in my mind.

There’s many more toys that have been huge hits over the years that have been highly sought after- Super Soakers, Ataris, Tamagotchi, the list goes on.  One of my favorite toys from my childhood was a tiny plastic race track and a tiny car that I played with all of the Christmas break. It was probably bought at a dollar store, but I loved it.

Everyone has heard this before.

But not getting a toy won’t “ruin” Christmas.  Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like I do.  Toys and Christmas go hand in hand.  But it shouldn’t be the only thing.  Sometimes just having an extra day with the kids can be gift enough.  Kids will get over not getting the hottest toy.  I look back at Christmas with fondness.  It was the one time a year that my father was around.  He made delicious meals and we all watched tv together.  

Those memories have lasted longer than any toy has.  I hope my children also feel the same towards me.  


As I grow older I find that I have less free time to play around.  Also, the toys that I find myself longing for are getting more expensive.  Having toys occupies your free time.  Having free time is a hot commodity in this day and age.  Most people, myself included, feel that there is never enough “me time” left in a day to enjoy.

Having a family, ie: kids & wife/girlfriend (I don’t have both,that’d be crazy!) takes up most of the time left after working or sleeping.  Even those people have work/school/homework/etc that takes up their precious time.  Over the years, I have found that any leftover time is spent thinking about what to do next.  Not very often do people, myself included, take a breath and just enjoy the moment for longer than a few seconds.  I digress, let’s get back to toys!

I am often taking time to search Craigslist for stuff.  Stuff I think would be neat.  Stuff that would make me feel young.  Stuff that would make me feel like I deserved it.  Mostly, stuff I can’t afford.  

I always wanted a pinball game.  There are about four styles that I’d like to own.  However, after working at Chuck E. Cheese’s, I know they are expensive and a bitch to maintain.  But lights and sounds!

A NEW CAR!  Teslas are nice.  I’d love to own one, not because of the luxury, but because in the long run it would be cheaper than gas.  I just don’t have the initial lump sum payment to justify one.  At this time…

I love this Mercedes Gazelle Replica.  It is much cheaper than a Tesla.  I could find a decent one for about $9000.  However, I don’t have a garage to store it over winter.  That’d cost me a bit to build one first.  Plus, this would only be a “Sunday driver” and I can’t justify that.

Since we do so many road trips, I’ve been trying to convince my wife that we should buy an RV or travel trailer.  My wife made a good point though- our trips usually have us in major cities, RVs don’t belong there.  The kids and I want to do camping more, but my wife doesn’t like tents.  She’s only half sold on “Glamping” so this battle is still in the works.

Finally, the last true expensive luxury item I’d like is a boat.  Maintenance, fuel, more maintenance, more fuel, food, maintenance again- it costs money. But again, it’d be unused most of the time.  My wife and I also don’t agree on what style of boat would suit us.  She would like a bow rider for the lake, I’d like an island hopper with moorage for a weekend getaway.  Another stalemate.

Toys are fun.  So I’ll just stick with the ones I have.  Like our theater room and my train garden.  I get more use and joy from those than I probably would a boat or an RV.  It won’t stop me from searching Craigslist or eBay though.

Oh look!  A DeLorean for sale…